So you’ve made the decision to dive into the world of e-commerce and you’re about ready to start. There are just a few necessary things to consider before launching your online store to make sure you have all the ingredients to be successful.
I adapted what is known as the Marketing Mix, a business tool used by marketing professionals, to help online retailers address 7 crucial elements of their online business before getting started.
What should every online merchant think about before launching an online store?
In addition to your e-commerce business plan, there are several important details that your online success depends on. In order to make sure you’re ready, I’ve broken it down into 7 e-commerce specific categories.
1. Your Products
Think about your products as the lifeline of your business. An extensive amount of research should be done before you have your heart set on the products you’ll be selling. Is there a strong consumer demand? Will your products complement one another? Consider how you will position your products and differentiate your business from the competition.
Learn all about how to find the right products to sell online in my recent article.
The price of your products will really determine the survival of your company since it defines your profit. However, first you need to know the amount that your customers are willing to pay and be aware of the customers’ perceived value of what you’re selling.
This is when researching your competitors will really help. Take a look at competing products and find a way to create a differential value (the way consumers value your specific product versus other similar products on the market). A key factor in getting your inventory to fly off the shelves is using Psychological Pricing in E-commerce, this article shares strategies proven to increase sales.
How are you going to get the word out about your online store? How are you going to connect with consumers based on their needs? Think about different forms of communication between your online business and potential customers. Have you looked into different advertising mediums? Read more about Content Marketing Ecommerce in our recent blog post. Also, this article on Huffington Post shares Three Effective, Budget-friendly Ways to Advertise your Small Business Online.
What about communicating with customers through social media, blogging and press releases? Don’t forget about your customer service efforts –such as a Contact Us form, click-to-call option and/or an instant chat. Many customer service features are included in PrestaShop and you can find additional e-commerce customer service features on PrestaShop’s Official Marketplace.
It should be very easy for potential customers to find you and the products they are looking for. Here are different factors to think about to make your online store convenient for customers:
- Can customers find your online shop? This article will help you pick the right domain name for your online store.
- Are you providing a good shopping experience? Learn more about how to create a user friendly experience for your online store.
Other aspects that influence convenience are offering a simple checkout process, fast delivery time and ample information on your products. Consumers shop online because it’s convenient, remember that.
5. Well-defined Processes
Of course you’ll end up learning a lot once you actually launch but if you don’t have processes set up for the basics, you’ll end up with chaos. Processes vary depending on the nature of your business, but every online store owner needs a process for the following: returns, exchanges, inventory replenishment and customer service.
Set up milestones for when new processes will take effect. What works in the beginning may not be the most efficient as your business grows.
Many marketers refer to the four elements related to consumers as the compass model, named after the first letter of each direction on a compass (N, W, S, E).
This is a good time to put yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask these questions:
Needs – Are you fulfilling the needs of a potential customer? This can include: detailed product descriptions, different angles for product photos, a variety of sizes, etc.
Wants – Is your customer getting what they want? Maybe it includes free shipping or a discount – I suggest going through the shopping process on a competitor’s site and think about what could be better.
Security – Do customers feel safe shopping on your site? For example, customers want to see their preferred local payment solution, easy ways to contact you and understand your return policies.
Education – Have you educated consumers on your product? This is true whether or not your product is new to the market. Potential customers should know what’s special about your product and why they should purchase from you and not from the competitor.
7. Shop Elements
There’s no denying that your branding and image will influence your customers purchasing decisions. Have you decided on your e-commerce software, online store front, logo, banners and web design? This blog post shares the Top 5 E-commerce Design Trends for your Online Store.
If you haven’t already, check out PrestaShop – unlike other solutions on the market, PrestaShop is completely free to create and manage your online shop and comes with over 310 features! Download it today or give the demo a try.
If you have all of these elements good to go then you’re ready to launch your online store! I wish you the best of luck and make sure to subscribe to the PrestaShop RSS feed to get e-commerce updates and valuable tips.